Best free apps to track your online spending habits
The digital age has blessed our generation with technology beyond the wildest dreams of those who lived before us. Digital technology is now a huge part of how we spend our money with the rise of contactless and “invisible payments” via apps and one touch technology online. Due to the invisible nature of how we are spending, it can be far harder to keep track of our finances and budget effectively.
Furthermore, according to the Guardian, it is hardly surprising that so many young people are struggling to make ends meet when the wages are still below where they were eight years ago. However, newly developed smartphone apps, designed to aid budgeting and tracking your online spending habits, could be the answer to all your financial prayers.
These apps all claim to be simple to use. They work by tracking your virtual spending habits and alert you when you are overspending or misspending your funds. There are some on the market which are free, and some which are unfortunately not, but in this guide we will be focussing on the free apps or the free versions that claim to save you hundreds or even thousands.
Previously known as the Easy Envelop Budget Aid, GoodBudget is an app which is based on the “envelope budgeting method” which divides your cash into pots of money for different purposes.
With Goodbudget, you can check your envelop balances as well as your bank balances. The option of expense tracking is also available. For your convenience, you can sync the envelopes and balances between your devices and other people’s devices, which is great for household budgeting.
There is a free version of GoodBudget, but you can unlock more features for £3.50 a month. It is available on iOS, Android and desktop.
OnTrees was bought by the website MoneySuperMarket in 2014 and is an app which lets you view all of your bank accounts from different providers in one place with only one login. You cannot use it to move any money in and out of your accounts however, it is a read only service – but it is perfect as a guide.
OnTrees is focussed on showing you where your money has gone, rather than focussing on the planning aspect. The app conveniently sorts your bank transactions into categories.
OnTrees is completely free, but is only available for iOS and desktop users. However, the developers have mentioned that they are working on an Android and a Windows app.
Another free app with an influx of rave reviews. The developers of Wally claim that the app offers its users a “360 degree view” of their money; tracking what comes in and what goes out, how much you have saved and what your budgeting goals are.
Wally also cleverly uses your phones location, if you enable it, to track where you have spent your money and when. Another great feature is the ability to photograph your receipts in order to update your spending habits.
Notifications will pop up to remind you of any upcoming payments you have and when you have reached that savings goal.
Wally is available on both iOS and Android, but there is no desktop version available yet.
To get started on Money Dashboard, you need to enter your bank login details for the software to be able to read your bank statements. Whilst this may make some users slightly uncomfortable, it is a read-only service and therefore does not let you move money in and out of accounts.
Once you have linked your accounts to the app, your transaction groups will be moved into different categories and tags, such as “Wifi”, “Food” or “Retail”. The developers of the app claim that “with a clearer view of how, when and where you’re spending your money you’ll be in a better position to organise your finances more effectively”.
Available on Android and iOS, but not desktop.
Penny is an AI chatbot that “texts” you about your finances. You link all of the appropriate accounts to app and the app can answer any of the questions you ask Penny about money. Penny can also send you updates, such as “you are about hit your overdraft”.
For some responses, Penny will provide simple graphs and charts to aid your understanding.
The app is free, but you have the option to upgrade to a premium membership called Penny+ which allows you to do things like editing transaction names, create new spending categories, refresh balances at any time and create custom reminders about bills or credit card payments.
Level Money claims to do all the work for you – sounds good! After you link up all your appropriate bank accounts, credit cards, income details and how much you wish to save month to month, the app acts to crunch the numbers down to give you a “spendable” amount. This refers to how much you can afford to spend each day, however you decide.
Level money breaks down the numbers in much smaller amounts instead of taking a monthly approach to spending.